Despite a valiant effort, Southampton’s B team bowed out of the Papa Johns Trophy with a 2-1 defeat against League Two side Newport County on Tuesday night.
The hosts lead at half time after an early Omar Bogle penalty and doubled their lead on the hour mark through James Waite.
Saints’ youngsters posed a constant threat and earned a way back into the game through substitute Sam Bellis in the second half.
The game ended in a narrow 2-1 defeat as Newport County progress out of Group F.
There were three changes from the side that bowed out of the Hampshire Senior Cup at the hands of Portsmouth a week ago, as Dave Horseman handed a B Team debut to defender, Jayden Meghoma.
The 16-year-old, who signed from Tottenham Hotspur at the start of October, was joined in the starting line-up at Rodney Parade by Nico Lawrence and Kamari Doyle.
Saints came into the game knowing that a two-goal winning margin would be required, along with defeat for Exeter City in the other Group F fixture, for them to progress to the knockout stages.
The hosts made a bright start to the game, perhaps aware that they required a win with scores level in Group F’s other game, and it was Newport who created the first opportunity.
Eight minutes in, Adam Lewis charged down the left touchline and delivered a deep cross that was headed just wide by Cameron Norman at the far post.
The Exiles’ early pressure paid off as they opened the scoring moments later.
A back pass from Lawrence was intercepted by Omar Bogle, who in turn was brought down by Ollie Wright as he looked to knock the ball past Saints’ goalkeeper.
Bogle duly stepped up and dispatched the spot kick to give Newport the lead with his second goal of the competition.
As the first half wore on, Horseman’s youngsters grew into the game as they looked to force a response against their SkyBet League Two opponents.
Some threatening forays into the final third from the likes of Jimmy-Jay Morgan and Sam Amo-Ameyaw gave cause for concern, but any clear-cut goalscoring chances proved harder to come by.
Just after the half hour mark, Bogle almost found his second goal of the game to extend the lead.
A dangerous delivery from Lewis was controlled by the Newport striker in the area, but pressure from the onrushing Wright prevented the ball from being prodded home.
In the final minute of normal time at the end of the first half, Dom Ballard was denied an equaliser with his first shot on goal.
The 17-year-old striker did well to bring down a lofted through ball and hold off the defender, but his low shot was saved by the feet of Nick Townsend.
In stoppage time of the first half, Wright was called into action twice to maintain a one goal margin at the break.
Saints’ ‘keeper stayed strong to deny a near post effort from Norman, before comfortably catching Scot Bennett’s shot from range.
The second half at Rodney Parade began after full time in the other Group F game; Exeter City’s 4-1 defeat against Forest Green Rovers left Saints needing to find three goals without reply to progress out of the group.
Horseman’s side were certainly not going down without a fight and forced their first chance within the opening minute of the second period.
Ballard was released inside the area and drilled a shot across goal that was palmed away by Townsend and cleared away.
After some progressive attacks that forced two consecutive Saints corner, Amo-Ameyaw was the next to try his luck on goal with an effort from range that drifted over.
Against the run of play, however, it was the hosts who found the next goal on the hour mark in fortuitous circumstances.
After some penalty area pinball and an excellent reaction save from Wright, the loose ball was tapped home by James Waite from inside the six-yard box.
Five substitutions were made from the visitors as the second half wore on and they continued to pressure with fresh legs on the field.
One of those introductions, Sam Bellis, reaped the rewards as Saints did find a goal back in the 76th minute.
A misjudged defensive header looped over the head of Townsend in the Newport goal and Bellis was alert to nod home from close range.
The substitute striker almost turned provider two minutes later with a powerful low cross that flashed across the face of goal without a converting touch.
The hosts threatened to add to their lead in the closing stages as Lewis Collins and Offrande Zanzala both went close but to no avail.
The final whistle signalled the end of Saints’ time in the 2022/23 Papa Johns Trophy, as they return to Premier League 2 action with a trip to Newcastle at the weekend.